May: ‘We Are Placing Our Resources Behind Press Freedom’

The Prime Minister has highlighted the important role that journalists play in democracies across the world and said that in 2019 “we are placing our resources behind the cause of media freedom.”

In response to a parliamentary question this week by John Whittingdale MP, asking the Prime Minister to ensure that action is taken to crack down on Governments across the globe who attempt to quash media freedom  Mrs May said it was “an important issue.”

The Prime Minister said: “My right hon. Friend raises a very important issue. I certainly agree about the important role a free press and journalists play in our democracies, and I thank him for raising an issue that I know is important to him and many Members across the House.

“Sadly, as he says, 80 journalists we killed in 2018; 348 are currently in prison and 60 are being held hostage around the world. We are deeply concerned because, as he said, these numbers have risen on the previous year. That is why in 2019 we are placing our resources behind the cause of media freedom.

“We are helping to train journalists around the world, such as in Venezuela, where we have seen an authoritarian Government suppress their critics, and this year we plan to host an international conference in London on media freedom to bring together countries that believe in this cause and to mobilise an international consensus behind the protection of journalists. This is an important issue, and the Government are putting their weight behind it.”

Separately, the Foreign Office has announced a new inquiry by the Foreign Affairs Committee to “examine the potential approaches, challenges and resources available to the FCO in the Foreign Secretary’s quest to strengthen global media freedom and combat disinformation.”

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has said previously that media freedom is a “top priority” for the coming year and has announced plans for the UK to host an international conference promoting media freedom and the safety of journalists.